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The NFC was the San Francisco 49ers invitational last season, as they finished with the best record in the conference and just one possession away from winning Super Bowl LVIII. Of course, the playoff path to the Super Bowl wasn't as easy as the regular season -- as San Francisco overcame halftime deficits in both its playoff games to advance. 

The rest of the NFC is catching up to San Francisco, as the 49ers still have to make a few crucial decisions to their roster. Until they are dethroned, they'll still the team to beat in the NFC.

How does the rest of the conference stack up to the 49ers? This is how the NFC hierarchy shakes up after the 2024 NFL Draft

1. San Francisco 49ers

2023 record: 12-5 (reached Super Bowl LVIII)

The 49ers remain the team to beat in the NFC, as the core of their offense still has Brock Purdy, Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle and Trent Williams. They addressed the right side of the line with Dominick Puni in the third round while adding depth at the skill positions with Ricky Pearsall and Isaac Guerendo

Leonard Floyd was a strong addition to a pass rush that didn't hit the mark with Chase Young while De'Vondre Campbell should hold the fort with Dre Greenlaw recovering from his Achilles injury. Second-round pick Renardo Green should compete for a starting job at cornerback. 

The 49ers still have to address an Aiyuk extension and/or potential trades regarding him and Samuel. Right now, the intent is to keep both. This is a "Super Bowl or bust" year for the 49ers in 2024. 

2. Detroit Lions

2023 record: 12-5 (reached NFC Championship)

The draft is where the Lions shine, as they hit a home run by selecting Terrion Arnold in the first round. Arnold should be a Week 1  starter at cornerback for a secondary that needed a playmaker at the position. Ennis Rakestraw Jr. fell to No. 61 in the second round, giving the Lions needed depth at the corner position, too. Sione Vaki, who can play at running back or safety, appears to be playing the former for Detroit, giving the Lions more depth behind David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs

Detroit did add guard Kevin Zeitler in free agency to replace Jonah Jackson and signed star wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown to a massive extension. With the core of the offense still intact, the Lions are set up to make another deep playoff run. If wide receiver Jameson Williams takes the next step, the Lions may be hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy next year. 

3. Philadelphia Eagles

2023 record: 11-6 (reached NFC wild card round)

There are still a lot of questions on the Eagles, but the front office was busy this season to make Philadelphia a Super Bowl contender once again. Not only did general manager Howie Roseman lock up his young core with contract extensions, but the Eagles added Saquon Barkley as one of the prized free agent signings this offseason. 

Philadelphia added Quinyon Mitchell and Cooper DeJean in the first two rounds, revamping a secondary that also saw the return of C.J. Gardner-Johnson. The Eagles also added Bryce Huff to the pass rush and dealt Haason Reddick, adding bigger edge rushers to Vic Fangio's scheme. 

They still have to replace the leadership of Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox, but Philadelphia has the talent to compete with the top teams in the conference. A good start is paramount for the Eagles. 

4. Green Bay Packers

2023 record: 9-8 (reached NFC divisional playoffs)

The Packers are the rising team in the NFC, almost upsetting the 49ers in the divisional playoffs as the No. 7 seed. Jordan Love was excellent in his first full season as the franchise quarterback, having a young wide receiver and tight end group that will continue to get better.

Green Bay added Josh Jacobs in free agency and MarShawn Lloyd in the draft, completely revamping the running back position (A.J. Dillon is returning, too). Javon Bullard and Xavier McKinney are the core pieces to a revamped safety position, while Edgerrin Cooper should become an instant playmaker at linebacker. 

There are still questions on the offensive line if Elgton Jenkins goes down, but the Packers are the Lions' biggest threat in a suddenly loaded NFC North. 

5. Dallas Cowboys

2023 record: 12-5 (reached NFC wild card round)

Dallas is a franchise that tends to do really well in the draft, and that trend continued with Tyler Guyton and Cooper Beebe on the offensive line. Guyton is projected to start at one of the tackle spots while Beebe can easily slot in at left guard or center, pending on where Dallas decides to play Tyler Smith

Free agency is another story, as the Cowboys let Tony Pollard walk in favor of Ezekiel Elliott. Eric Kendricks was the other marquee free agent signing at the Mike linebacker spot. Then there's the looming Dak Prescott contract saga, along with an extension for CeeDee Lamb incoming.

The Cowboys are still immensely talented, but there are a lot of roster decisions that have to be addressed. There's a cloud hovering over this team heading into 2024. 

6. Los Angeles Rams

2023 record: 10-7 (reached NFC wild card round)

The Rams made a few moves in free agency that went under the radar, including signing Tre'Davious White and Kamren Curl in order to revamp their secondary. The defense also will have a different look with Aaron Donald's retirement, but Los Angeles added Jared Verse and Braden Fiske in the draft to pair with standout rookie Kobie Turner and Byron Young. Kameron Kitchens was also added at safety in the third round.

Blake Corum was the addition to an offensive skill position group that already has Kyren Williams, Puka Nacua and Cooper Kupp. Matthew Stafford is still the quarterback and should have better protection on the interior with Jonah Jackson added to the offensive line. 

There's still questions on the offensive line, but Los Angeles has the talent to make noise in the conference. A second Super Bowl title in four years isn't out of the question. 

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

2023 record: 9-8 (reached NFC divisional round)

Making sure they stayed a player in the NFC South, the Buccaneers' biggest moves of the offseason were retaining Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans. If the Buccaneers didn't re-sign Mayfield, they'd be reaching for a quarterback in this year's draft. Lavonte David is also back, keeping the majority of the Super Bowl championship core together. 

Tampa Bay improved the interior of the offensive line with the selection of Graham Barton in the first round, and added depth at the skill positions with Jalen McMillan at wide receiver (third round) and Bucky Irving at running back (fourth round). 

The ceiling of this Buccaneers team is unclear, but they are the best team in the NFC North. Someone from this division gets a playoff spot. 

8. Chicago Bears

2023 record: 7-10 (missed playoffs)

The Bears are certainly contenders for the team that improved the most this offseason. Not only did Chicago draft Caleb Williams with the first overall pick, but they added Keenan Allen via trade and Rome Odunze with the No. 9 overall pick in the draft at wide receiver. Chicago also has D.J. Moore by the way. 

D'Andre Swift pairs with Khalil Herbert at running back, contributing to the overall of the offense. The offensive line is still a question, but right tackle Darnell Wright should see gradual improvement in Year 2. 

Chicago was able to retain Jaylon Johnson at cornerback and added veteran Kevin Byard at safety. The Bears made most of their major moves on defense last season, so many changes didn't need to be made. 

If Williams develops like the Bears think he will in his rookie season, Chicago is a candidate to swipe a playoff spot. 

9. Seattle Seahawks

2023 record: 9-8 (missed playoffs)

The Seahawks are the biggest wild card in the conference. Seattle has a new head coach in Mike Macdonald, tasked with revamping the defense in his image. Leonard Williams is back at defensive tackle and now has first-round pick Byron Murphy with him on the defensive interior. Tyrel Dodson is a sneaky good signing at linebacker. 

The interior of the offensive line has improved with the selection of Christian Haynes in the third round and Laken Tomlinson in free agency. The core of the offense is still around with Geno Smith, Kenneth Walker II, D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

Seattle will look different under Macdonald, but the Seahawks should hold their own in the NFC West. Wouldn't be surprising if they returned to the playoffs. 

10. Atlanta Falcons

2023 record: 7-10 (missed playoffs)

Not only did the Falcons add a quarterback in Kirk Cousins, they added another one in the first round in Michael Penix Jr. There could be internal drama, but the Falcons didn't have anyone play quarterback who could carry the offense last year. Bijan Robinson should be better in Year 2 and Kyle Pitts is expected to be the 1,000-yard force he was in his rookie season with Zac Robinson running the offense. The receiving group is also improved with Rondale Moore and Darnell Mooney. Let's not forget Atlanta has one of the better run-blocking offensive lines in the league. 

The defense hasn't changed much from 2023, except for new defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake (same pieces from Ryan Nielsen's unit). Ruke Orhorhoro was an interesting second-round pick at defensive tackle when Johnny Newton was still on the board. The pass rush was better last season, but still needs work. 

Still some holes on this Falcons team, but they have the quarterback to win the NFC South. They'll be a contender to go to the playoffs. 

11. Minnesota Vikings

2023 record: 7-10 (missed playoffs)

Hard to project where this Vikings team will go in 2024, as Minnesota is the biggest "boom-or-bust" team in the NFC. J.J. McCarthy is going to start for this team at some point this year, and is in an ideal position to succeed with Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison at wide receiver, a healthy T.J. Hockenson at tight end and Aaron Jones at running back. If Sam Darnold starts the season, the leash will be short. 

The defense, which made marked improvements under Brian Flores in Year 1, added Jonathan Greenard to the pass rush, along with Blake Cashman and Andrew Van Ginkel at linebacker. The Vikings also traded up to select Dallas Turner in the first round, who should have a monster first season lining up with Greenard. 

If McCarthy beats Darnold in camp and gets off to a fast start, the Vikings have the makings of a playoff team. All depends how the quarterback situation plays out. 

12. New Orleans Saints

2023 record: 9-8 (missed playoffs)

So hard to evaluate this Saints team, as Derek Carr struggled in his first season yet New Orleans still finished with a winning record. Taliese Fuaga was an excellent pick in the first round, but the uncertain future of Ryan Ramczyk clouds the tackle spot. Perhaps Andrus Peat makes a return.

The Saints defense is still good, adding Kool-Aid McKinstry to a cornerback group that already has Paulson Adebo and Marshon Lattimore. Cameron Jordan is in his mid 30s, so free-agent signing Chase Young will have immense pressure to get to the quarterback when he can get on the field. 

The salary cap situation every offseason prevents the Saints from getting better. New Orleans has playmakers at the skill positions, but the Saints need Carr to play up to his contract. They'll miss the playoffs again if he doesn't. 

13. Washington Commanders

2023 record: 4-13 (missed playoffs)

No team in the NFC overhauled their roster like the Commanders did this offseason, due to the product of new ownership, a new head coach and a new general manager. Washington added Dorance Armstrong, Frankie Luvu, Bobby Wagner and Jeremy Chinn to improve the league's worst defense last season. The Commanders also addressed defense in the draft with Johnny Newton and Mike Sainristil in the second round, along with Jordan MaGee in the fifth round.

Washington, of course, also drafted Jayden Daniels with the No. 2 overall pick to be their franchise quarterback. Daniels will cause problems in the NFC East, especially with Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Zach Ertz catching passes. Austin Ekeler is also the new featured back in the revamped offense. The interior offensive line also improved with Nick Allegretti and Tyler Biadasz at center. 

The Commanders rebuild is trending in a positive direction. This season is about Daniels' growth as a quarterback. 

14. New York Giants

2023 record: 6-11 (missed playoffs)

The Giants are also on the right track with building their roster, even if their starting quarterback has an uncertain future. New York addressed the offensive line in free agency with Jon Runyan Jr., Jermaine Eluemunor and Aaron Stinnie, giving Daniel Jones at least a fighting chance to retain his job. This should be the best offensive line in years. 

Drafting Malik Nabers at No. 6 overall was also a smart move instead of reaching for a quarterback. Nabors and Jalin Hyatt should be fun to watch develop. 

The defense added Tyler Nubin and Andru Phillips to the secondary, while the trade and extension of Brian Burns makes the pass rush significantly better (Kayvon Thibodeaux is on the other end). New York also added Jordan Phillips to pair with Dexter Lawrence on the defensive interior. 

The Giants are building their team the right way. They can continue their rebuild and address the quarterback next year. 

15. Arizona Cardinals

2023 record: 4-13 (missed playoffs)

The Cardinals took the best player in the draft in Marvin Harrison Jr., electing to give Kyler Murray a No. 1 wide receiver for the first time since he had DeAndre Hopkins in his prime. Harrison and Michael Wilson at wide receiver are more than adequate enough to get the passing game going. Of course, emerging tight end Trey McBride is on this roster as well.

Arizona addressed the left side of the offensive line with third-round pick Isaiah Adams and free agent signing Jonah Williams, allowing Paris Johnson Jr. to stay at right tackle. The defense added Darius Robinson and Max Melton in the draft, two excellent additions to a unit that needs playmakers. The secondary should be the strength of the unit with Melton, Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson

Arizona is another team that is still in a rebuilding stage, needing more talent on the defensive line and at linebacker. The pass rush will be a concern, but Jonathan Gannon has this team on the right track. 

16. Carolina Panthers 

2023 record: 2-15 (missed playoffs)

The only thing that matters in Carolina is Bryce Young's improvement. The Panthers aren't expected to be a good team next season, even if they addressed the offensive line by overpaying Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis to solidify the guard position. 

Trading up for Xavier Legette was a good move and acquiring Diontae Johnson gives Young a fighting chance with better pass catchers (Adam Thielen and Terrance Marshall are still around too). Carolina may have reached for Jonathon Brooks, but he was the best running back in the board and would have been drafted higher if not for the ACL injury. 

The defense underwent a renovation with A'Shawn Robinson, Jadeveon Clowney, Jordan Fuller, and Dane Jackson added to the mix. Trevin Wallace was a nice pick in the third round and should compete for a starting job at linebacker. 

This season revolves around Dave Canales and how he improves Bryce Young like he did with Baker Mayfield last season. If Young  significantly improves, so do the Panthers in the future.